As Ohio continues to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday outlined plans to expand to new groups of recipients in the coming weeks.
The group 1B distribution will begin January 19, with vaccines first made available to those ages 80 and older, a population estimated at more than 400,000.
"We will start with our most vulnerable where we’ve seen the most tragedy," DeWine said. "They're the people in this state who have the most risk of death if they get COVID."
Each week, additional recipients will be added as follows:
- Week of 1/19: Age 80+
- Week of 1/25: Age 75+ and people with specific medical conditions
- Week of 2/1: Age 70+ and school personnel
- Week of 2/8: Age 65+
DeWine said the state this week is sending forms to school superintendents, and those who commit to offering in-person or hybrid instruction by March 1 will be able to have their personnel vaccinated.
"Our goal is to have every child in school by March 1," DeWine said.
He acknowledged school personnel would not receive both doses of the vaccine by then, but he said all those who want the vaccine should be able to receive the first dose by that date.
The governor says that distribution of vaccines to group 1A, which includes frontline workers and nursing home residents and staff, will continue as the state begins to vaccinate the estimated 2.2 million people in group 1B.
DeWine said 1,700 providers have registered with the Ohio Department of Health to administer vaccines. He says the state will host a webinar for those providers on Monday, January 11 to outline expectations and instructions for distributing vaccines to group 1B.
He's asking each county's Emergency Management Agency to hold a press conference later that week to outline their county's plans to administer the vaccine.
“The logistical lift of this distribution is unprecedented,” DeWine said, adding that technological issues with reporting have been addressed. "Trying to manage scarcity is not a lot of fun."
DeWine said he’s disturbed by reports that some counties, including Erie County in northern Ohio, have vaccinated people not included in the 1A group.
“Every time we vaccinate someone who’s 35 years of age who does not have a great risk, we’re bumping somebody,” DeWine said. “We’ve got to protect lives.”
DeWine said the state is at the mercy of the supply from vaccine manufacturers and has to ration its distribution. Ohio expects to receive approximately 100,000 doses of the vaccine each week for the coming weeks.
“Those numbers could certainly change,” he said. "We hope the number of vaccines coming into Ohio will increase."
"A Horrible, Tragic Day"
Commenting on the violent mob that broke into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to try to stop the certification of Joe Biden's presidential victory, DeWine called their actions "devastating, despicable."
But he applauded Congress for working late into the night to complete the certification, saying it was "a sign of great strength and unity and hope. The system worked. The Constitution held. I thank them for doing their job amidst chaos and danger to themselves."
DeWine then called the actions by President Donald Trump and his supporters "shameful" and said "all Americans must denounce them." It amounted to one of DeWine's harshest rebukes of Trump – for whose Ohio re-election campaign DeWine served as honorable co-chair.
But DeWine said he does not support invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power, a move demanded by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and other Democrats. With 13 days remaining in Trump's term, DeWine says such a move would "stoke the fires" of those who don't like the outcome of the election.
"For the good of the country, that seems to me to be something that would cause more division than healing and we should be at a time now for healing," DeWine said.